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GroomNews Christmas 2016 December 10, 2016

Posted by Phil Groom in Advent and Christmas, Life, News.
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WELCOME to GroomNews Christmas 2016 — and what a year it’s been! We’ve moved home, moved boat, both started new jobs, met lots of new people, lost and found the Christmas wrapping paper… but that’s getting ahead of ourselves: back to the beginning.

Farewell to Henlow & Langford
A huge thank you, first of all, to the wonderful people of Henlow and Langford, not only for giving us a very generous send-off but also for taking the time to travel to Devizes and join us for Sue’s collation and official welcome as Archdeacon of Wilts back in February.

Discovering the Archdeaconry of Wilts
Sue is thoroughly enjoying exploring Wiltshire, visiting the 123 churches in the archdeaconry and getting to know so many different people. Much of her time is spent on appointments: it’s vital to find the right priest for each post. She’s also now making a point of visiting the area’s 53 church schools, where she loves leading collective worship and meeting pupils, staff and governors. Other responsibilities include taking the lead on Safeguarding within the diocese and attending various regular meetings about finance and buildings.

The Venerable Doctor Sue Groom, Archdeacon of Wilts, in her graduation gown (Durham, July 2016)Forget Doctor Who: Here’s Doctor Sue!
Sue submitted her DThM thesis in January before we moved, then came the viva in May and—yes!—she passed with flying colours, not even minor corrections required. The graduation ceremony followed in Durham in July and Sue now enjoys the title of Venerable Doctor. A chapter from the thesis is due to be published in the Anglican Theological Review in Spring 2017. What comes next? If the plan comes together, an LLM in Canon Law at Cardiff, studies commencing next autumn.

Swimming the Channel…
Virtually, that is, 22 miles length by length in our local pool! Sue took up the Aspire Channel Swim Challenge in September, swam the width of the Channel twice, and raised over £1,200 in the process to support people with spinal injuries. A huge thank you to everyone who sponsored her.

Onto the Kennet & Avon
We moved Almost onto the K&A in the summer, cruising up the Thames to Reading and across to Devizes, where Almost is now moored, just a short walk from home. It’s a lovely 87 mile long waterway that stretches across the south of the country to Bath. Phil is getting to know the canal well as he now works part time for CRT, the Canal & River Trust: look out for him at the Caen Hill welcome station if ever you’re out on the towpath!

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Moored at Kingston upon Thames, en route to Devizes

Back into the Book Trade, and still baking!
Phil is also working part time with DLT Books (Darton, Longman & Todd), helping with publicity and promotions to raise awareness and reach out to people and groups that traditional trade routes aren’t reaching as well as they might. You can find out more and read excerpts from lots of books on the DLT Books Blog, and right now the entire backlist—everything published in 2015 or earlier—is half-price in the Christmas Sale: simply use the discount code xmas in the online shopping basket to activate the discount!

… and yes, Phil is still head chef, baker, bottle washer and gardener, as well as collector of firewood for our lovely open fireplaces!

With our love, prayers and very best wishes for Christmas and the coming year,

— Phil & Sue

Open Fireplace, December 2016

Keeping us cosy: our lounge fireplace (December 2016)

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GroomNews Christmas 2015 December 14, 2015

Posted by Phil Groom in Advent and Christmas, Life, News.
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May the Wisdom of the Magi and the Light of Christ’s Advent Star guide you and illuminate your way this Christmas and throughout the coming year

The Visit of the Magi, from one of many Crib Sets featured in the St Mary’s Henlow Family Crib Festival this year. Click through the picture to find out more…

WELCOME to GroomNews Christmas 2015! Another year almost over as we wonder where the time went as we prepare to celebrate the wonder of God With Us as we prepare to move home and boat as we — phew: got all that? Exciting times here on Planet Groomsville!

Introducing the Next Archdeacon of Wilts
If you saw the announcements in November, you can skip this; but for those who missed it, we’re delighted to announce that Sue has been appointed as the next Archdeacon of Wilts in the Diocese of Salisbury.

So what, you may wonder, is an Archdeacon? Think of it as the Church of England’s equivalent of an Area Manager: instead of looking after her own parish, Sue will be working with lots of parishes, supporting their mission and ministry and helping clergy and PCCs as they deal with various administrative, legal and other issues. Want to know more? See the press release on the Salisbury diocesan website: A New Archdeacon for Wilts

What about Phil?
Good question! He’s handing in his notice at Sainsbury’s with a transfer request to Devizes, where we’ll be based (our new home is only 100 yards or so from the Kennet & Avon Canal) but there are no vacancies there right now so we’re looking at a period (hopefully brief) where he’ll be Archdeacon’s Estate Manager. In other words, baking cakes and looking after house & garden until he finds paid work. Baking cakes? Yes indeed: his new hobby — here’s his latest, this year’s Christmas cake:

This year's Christmas Cake (recipe adapted from Mary Berry; mixed, baked, iced and decorated by Phil)

This year’s Christmas Cake (recipe adapted from Mary Berry; mixed, baked, iced and decorated by Phil)

His other creations (or concoctions, depending on your point of view) this year have included cheese scones, apple cinnamon cakes, apple & apricot cakes and a cherry-lemon loaf.

In the meantime, he’s as busy as ever with various other projects including 5 Quid for Life, the UK Christian Bookshops Directory and a miscellany of church and community websites: paid work or otherwise, he’s not about to run out of things to do!

Research News: almost there!
The end is in sight for Sue’s research as she works on her final chapter (the conclusion, of course) and pulls everything together before submission next year—gulp!

Almost waiting for a lock on the Northampton Arm (July 2015)

Almost waiting for a lock on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union (July 2015)

Almost Update
No edition of GroomNews would be complete without an Almost update, so here it is: our fridge died. Sob! After 25 years loyal service, no less, on the first night of this year’s holiday! Boat fridges don’t come cheap, alas: a replacement would have cost at least £600; but after much asking around, we found someone who could fix it and it’s back in action, cool as ever, for only £60.

And finally…
Finally, a HUGE thank you to everyone who has encouraged and supported us along the way, with special thanks to the people of Henlow and Langford. It’s been wonderful to see the two churches grow in confidence, faith and love: long may that continue! If you’d like to know more about either or both churches, visit their websites or facebook pages — or even better, visit in person: you can be sure of a warm welcome!

With our love, prayers and very best wishes,

Phil & Sue

PS: Want to keep up with us in between issues of GroomNews? Connect with Phil on facebook and twitter:

Introducing the next Archdeacon of Wilts November 3, 2015

Posted by Phil Groom in Church, Life, News.
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The Revd Canon Sue Groom

The Revd Canon Sue Groom, next Archdeacon of Wilts

TODAY it gives me immense pleasure to introduce the next Archdeacon of Wilts, someone most readers of this blog will already know: none other than my wonderful wife, the Revd Canon soon-to-be-Venerable Sue Groom.

Sue’s present dual-role post as Priest-in-Charge of Henlow & Langford and St Albans Diocesan Director of Ordinands (DDO) requires her to give three months notice, so the lovely people of Henlow and Langford haven’t seen the last of us yet: we don’t leave until the end of January 2016; but both of us would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has welcomed us and made our 6+ years here in Bedfordshire so enjoyable and worthwhile — it’s been a genuine privilege to share this part of our lives with you.

Sue’s last service in the Benefice is scheduled for Sunday 31st January, a combined service with the two parishes together at St Andrew’s, Langford, and we’d love to see as many people there as possible: please do join us if you’re in the area. Her licensing as Archdeacon of Wilts is scheduled for Monday 22nd February  at St John’s, Devizes — close to where we’ll be living, a superb location on the Kennet & Avon Canal — followed on Thursday 25th February by a diocesan welcome service for both Sue and the new Bishop of Sherborne at Salisbury Cathedral: look out for more details of these services nearer the time.

The news was announced in both parishes on Sunday 1st November 2015, and further announcements and a press release are being issued today via the official St Albans and Salisbury diocesan news channels; all that remains for me to say now is:

Congratulations Sue!

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